Day 218: What’s the problem?

I started this blog post, last night, around 1:15 AM:

So I’m going on a great trip, starting at 9:30 PM tonight, with my wonderful 15-year-old son.

Things are going well at work.

I’ve been enjoying writing this blog.

I feel like I’m learning a lot, every day.

I’ve prepared enough for this trip, definitely.

So what’s the problem?

Why am I anxious, fearful, wanting to hide, and irritated? Why am I focusing on worst case scenarios?  Why am I feeling overwhelmed by decisions I need to make about packing and so on, when I know there is no right or wrong decision, and it’s all solvable?

It doesn’t make sense.

Although I usually believe that everything makes sense, on some level.

And, as I’ve heard lots of people say, in similar situations, “I don’t like when I’m feeling this way. I SHOULDN’T be feeling this way.  I should be happy.”

Well, maybe I could try this: just be with the feelings.

Be pissed off and irritated, for no reason.

Be anxious and fretful, for no reason.

Instead of trying to overcome those uncomfortable feelings with positive re-thinking, maybe I could just be irrationally and unreasonably cranky, right now.

Okay, I’ll give myself an assignment: to have all those feelings I feel uncomfortable with right now:

Frustration

Fear

Then, I put my laptop aside, and was able to fall asleep.  (Yay!)

Then, about an hour later, I woke up and text-messaged (!) my bf, who was downstairs:

“Hi Michael!”

I didn’t know if he would see the message, but I guess he did, because he came upstairs and we had an amazing talk about topics including childhood experiences, guilt, depression, and people we knew who had tried to commit suicide (and one who had succeeded). That might sound like an awful conversation to have at that particular time, when my hope was to fall back asleep and feel refreshed and ready for the rest of my trip preparations. But the conversation also included another topic. Love. So it was awe-ful, in a different way.

After the conversation, I cried. Hard.

It all helped.  And I fell back asleep.

Now it’s morning. And there are several things I have to do, including bringing my car into my mechanic for some unexpected, major work.

So what is it that I would like to write this morning, before I end this blog post?

Maybe this:

I am afraid of flying.

Actually, as an old friend pointed out to me a long time ago, regarding my fear of heights:  “Ann, you’re not afraid of heights. You’re afraid of dying.”

He was right.

Every time I’m going to fly, my busy human mind goes lots of places (as human minds do).  And my mind goes to the possibility that the plane will crash. Which affects my mood. Which increases my anxiety.

And which makes me feel like I need to get everything done, now, because what if I’m gone, tomorrow?

While living each day like it could be your last (something I’m pretty good at, with good reason) has an up side, for sure…

Like most things, it has a down side, too.

Before I close, I wanted to introduce you to a stranger I met yesterday.

I was walking around Harvard Square, in Cambridge, getting some foreign currency, playing with my travel anxieties by “rehearsing” various travel-y things, and pretending that I’d never been to Harvard Square before, when I walked by this guy:

IMG_1370

I was distracted by lots of things, so it took me a moment to take that in.  When I did, I stopped, took out a dollar, and came back.  I told this guy, “I used to be in advertising, and that’s the best ad I’ve seen in MONTHS.”  Then, we had a great little conversation, where I ended up telling him that I was nervous about flying. He said, “Oh!  I understand!  But you know what?  Flying is the safest mode of travel.” And he told me that he knew what he was talking about, because he used to work for Delta Airlines.

And as we were having our conversation, several more people stopped, said something appreciative to him, and put money in his cup.

He also told me that he had several other signs he used.  He recited them all, with pride. I asked, “Which one does the best for you?”  And he gave me the answer I expected, “This one.”

Then, before I bid this gentleman adieu, I took his picture, told him I’d like to put him in my blog, and asked him his name.

“Caspar,” he said. “Like the friendly ghost.”

I like thinking that ghosts are friendly.

Thanks to Caspar, friendly creatures everywhere, and — of course! — you, for reading today.  Here’s hoping I’ll be continuing this blog, daily, on my travels with my son.

Categories: personal growth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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12 thoughts on “Day 218: What’s the problem?

  1. You made me smile — again — this morning.

    Love your spirit and your style and your inquisitive and open mind.

    I get anxious before a trip too — in the past, I’d create such inner angst that I’d do all sorts of things to sabotage the trip. Came back to childhood fears around going on trips with my father who could, at any moment, get angry, turn the car around and take us all home. I never felt safe on trips and carried it into my adult life. All better now. 🙂 tee hee — not true — I still get anxious, but as you suggest, I simply allow the feelings to pass through, to not hold onto them and don’t let my critter mind sabotage my life today! 🙂

    Hope you have an amazing and wonderful trip with your son. Hugs

  2. Nice post!

    For myself, fear of flying is really neither fear of flying nor dying, it’s lack of control. In fact, I hate being in a car if I’m not driving–a control-trust issue. In truth, flying is a wonderful, freeing feeling, and dying is complete freedom from all pain and discomfort. I’m sure that helps…

    But Caspar was right, flying is the safest mode of travel. The odds of dying in a car crash are 1 in 98 (about .01%) while the odds of dying in a plane crash are 1 in 7,178 (.0001%).*

    When I’m about to face a potentially (self-perceived) dangerous situation, I’ve taken** to remembering an episode of Star Trek in which the crew is about to transport down to the surface of an unknown planet. Dr. McCoy is his usual skeptical self, saying, “Jim, we don’t know anything about that planet. For all we know, we could re-materialize within solid rock!” To which Kirk responds, in his usual good-natured, puckish fashion, “Well, Bones, then consider it your chance to get away from it all.”

    Thinking of Captain Kirk somehow brings a bit of comfort.

    Looking forward to your overseas journal. Enjoy!

    PS: Feel free to lecture me similarly before my trip to Italy next year.

    *http://traveltips.usatoday.com/air-travel-safer-car-travel-1581.html
    **Valium

  3. I enjoyed this so much! I smiled, I understood…I wished you the best. 🙂

    • Thank you so much!

      • I still have reading to do, I’m trying to catch up on my weekly digests from the blogs I follow. I like to make sure and check in and see what everyone is up to. Looks like I have five more days to read…but I’ll get it done. 😉

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